For others it's the usual: alcohol.
Then there are those who only feel whole when working compulsively.
Every week they gather at a handful of Shambhala Meditation Centers throughout the U.S. for Sarpashana. One is in New Haven, Connecticut. Another is in Tucson, Arizona.
The essence of the Sarpashana approach to recovery is that the disease can be a platform for wonderful things. The term is a Sanskrit one meaning "poison eater."
It's only by ingesting poison that the peacock derives his plumage. So, the attendees are upbeat. The poison of addiction can be the path to unique self awareness, professional accomplishments, service to others and transformational intimate relationships.
The mechanics include a reading, usually from Pema Chodron's books such as "Comfortable with Uncertainty." Then there is a 20-minute meditation, the reading done again, a 45-minute discussion, and another 5-minutes of meditation.
No, Sarpashana doesn't replace other types of recovery tools such as 12-step meetings, detox and rehab. It's more like getting off the standard highway and opening yourself to unexpected perspectives.
For example, the helplessness of being in an addiction can soften the heart and downsize trust in the mind. It can be the first step to becoming part of the human race.
It came to me at yesterday's Sarpashana in Tucson that had Shakespeare's Hamlet been an addict and wanted to gain release, he would have surrendered. That is, to his fundamental humanity.
But he wasn't an addict. Instead Hamlet's heart remained hard. What was rotten in Denmark was his thinking.
There is no charge for Sarpashana.